INNERMOST RITE OF EGYPTIAN TEMPLES 173
with the human soul, pictured as a little bird-man in the system of hieroglyphs; they solved the mystery of death. They learned that it was really disappearance from one state of being, only to reappear in another; that it affected the fleshly body, but did not destroy the mind and the self. They learned, too, that the soul not only survived the destruction of its mortal envelope but progressed onwards to higher spheres.
In the advanced degrees, they were made acquainted with the divine soul; they were brought into personal communion with the Creator; they stood face to face with the Divine. They were first instructed in the true explanation of the Fall of Man from his original spiritual state. They were told the inner history of Atlantis, a history so intimately associated with the history of the Fall. Then they were lifted up, sphere beyond sphere, until they found themselves in the same highly spiritual consciousness as Man had enjoyed at the beginning. Thus, while yet on their pilgrimage in time, they had gathered the spoils of eternity.
It will not be amiss if at this point in my record of travel and impressions, I interpose some descriptive lines upon the various ancient institutions of the Mysteries from a pen other than my own—the pea of a man who lived in classic times and who had, himself, been initiated into the lesser degrees, at least. He was bound by oath not to reveal in detail what he had experienced, so we must not look for more than general explanations and elusive hints. The excerpt, which is the fullest known admission by an initiate, comes from Apuleius, an initiate of the first degree of the Mysteries of Isis; his autobiographical writings of one, "Lucius," and they show how the latter knocked at the temple door in his eagerness for the secret knowledge.
The Egyptian Mysteries were for long kept sealed to foreigners, and it was only in late times that a few were admitted and initiated. Those who were so initiated almost always kept their vows of secrecy. The regulations covering entrance were strict and severe.
"And daily my desire to be admitted to the Mysteries increased ever more and more, and again and again I visited the high priest with the most urgent entreaty that he would at